New legislation needed for airport eGate face scanners: Australian Customs

Australia’s federal government is seeking to collect and share biometric data to support new anti-terrorist security measures at airports, according to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service said that new legislation must first be put into place for its eGate facial recognition system, which is designed to prevent suspected terrorists from coming into or fleeing the nation, to be successfully implemented.

Scott Morrison, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott, said the government would invest $158 million to install electronic departure gates at major airports from mid-2015.

Although ACBPS and the Attorney-General’s office would not provide specifics about the proposed legislation, a spokeswoman for Customs said the proposed legislation will “enhance the ability for agencies to capture, store and share biometrics in order to improve the identification of terrorists and other persons of interest”.

Meanwhile, Australian Customs has been trialing the eGate system at Brisbane airport since July.

The agency plans to launch the system at the nation’s eight major international airports beginning in the second half of 2015, based on traveller volumes.

It declined to reveal whether eGate had been successful in identifying terror suspects or any other details about its performance.

The eGates would operate and record biometric data in a comparable way to the current SmartGate facial recognition system that is offered to Australian passport holders at airport arrival halls, said the Customs’ spokeswoman.

In 2012, the Australian National Audit Office found the significant errors with the SmartGate that led customs to overestimate its capability and green light an unnecessary expansion of the SmartGate program.

Over the next 12 months, the federal government will also expand the number of nationalities able to use SmartGate terminals including Canadians, Irish, Malaysians, Japanese, Chinese, Indians, French and more.

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